Lizard people, blood-swilling billionaires, and holographic popes: most of us are now familiar with the precepts of QAnon. The only question is: what kind of person believes this?
Research is limited, but it seems that the typical QAnon supporter is petite bourgeois (owns or expects to inherit a house), white, religious, usually but not always educated, older, and possibly downwardly mobile. There are plenty of exceptions, however.
As the previous source I linked to notes, many of these people are also attracted to “natural” health remedies, probably because (as property owners) they’re the only ones with the time to really melt their brains on Facebook—itself dangerously addictive. Both conservative and liberal boomers joke about how stupid millennials are, but the millennial computer programmers at Facebook have almost completely destroyed whatever remained of many boomer minds after all that lead poisoning from the 1960s.
We must ask, of course, why so many people are melting their brains on Facebook and other social media platforms. Humans are social(ist) animals, but capitalist society is fundamentally alienating: truly rewarding relationships are hard to find. It might be difficult to hear, but for most of human history, most people had many rewarding relationships, and spent almost all of their time around other people. Our current moment in history—in which the typical Westerner is being whittled down to an atomized monad whose interactions with the outside world are mediated entirely through the free market—is an anomaly in the human story.
When people feel lonely, they turn to Facebook. (I am speaking from my own experience, but plenty of research backs this up.) Then Facebook keeps them clicking by feeding them conspiracy theories which explain why they feel so miserable. Crucially, these conspiracy theories always point away from the petite bourgeois. Things never suck because we live in a dying capitalist society — one which has enriched you at the global 99%’s expense. No, it’s BLM. It’s Big Pharma. It’s Trump supporters. It’s Antifa. It’s China. It’s a group of people to which you have little if any connection.
In reality, pretty much everyone in America is implicated in capitalism’s slow motion collapse — some more than others, of course. America itself, the world’s imperial core, is a petite bourgeois society. According to the worldview of the reactionary petite bourgeois, all we have to do is defeat group X, and then everything will be the way it was back in the 1950s. This belief is shared by both American liberals and conservatives—the unofficial slogan of the Biden campaign, remember, is “a return to sanity.” A number of terminally online liberals have even been spotted saying that President Biden will truly make America great again.
But reality is much more unsettling: no one has omnipotent power. Although the rich exert a great deal of influence in the corporate media and in their indirect control (via bribed politicians) of the police and education systems, our problems are due to the contradictions of a system tearing itself to pieces. Because the work is social, but the profit is private—and because workers cannot consume without digging themselves into debt—our society has become like the broken airplane strikingly described in Daniel Quinn’s Ishmael. We keep pumping the wings harder, but the plane can only fall. Is this because the billionaires at the controls are crashing on purpose? Or is it because the plane is fundamentally unable to fly?
Billionaires are extremely fortunate, but appear to be of average or even below-average intelligence. Beyond the CIA’s many hackneyed plots—some of which occasionally succeed—I’m not sure that our corporate overlords have what it takes to conspire the way QAnon believers think they do. For the most part, they were born rich, and are just riding the gravy train.
Notably, although many Americans probably recognize QAnon as a massive problem, no one seems to have proposed a way to bring people back from the QAnon abyss. This is a typical liberal conceit, the decadence of a class which once overthrew Europe’s feudal lords and went on to enslave most of the planet. Today’s liberals believe, in contrast, that everything is awful and nothing can improve, but maybe we can get a few Republicans to vote for a means-tested tax credit for small businesses in underserved neighborhoods if we abolish Social Security and Medicare in exchange.
In reality, QAnon and fascism actually can be stopped by completely re-engineering society so that no one needs to be afraid of lacking necessities, so that no one feels alone or is preyed upon by business owners or landlords, and so that cultists can get help. If Mao could make the Last Emperor of China into a comrade, we can do the same for anyone who believes in QAnon. This would mean overthrowing capitalism, however, which is why liberals have little interest in addressing QAnon’s root causes. Ending QAnon and ending fascism likewise means ending liberalism.
Another major issue to bear in mind is that some parts of the QAnon conspiracy theory are true. For example, Jeffrey Epstein—a billionaire pedophile Democrat—happened! How can anyone who has spent any time reading establishment sources about Jeffrey Epstein conclude that there is absolutely nothing fishy about him? It’s absurd! Billionaires do actually control many aspects of our lives, and some of these people are indeed pedophiles! The Clintons are stunningly awful! Mixing these truths with religious nonsense, anti-semitic nightmares about reptoids, and general grift makes QAnon very hard to disprove. And when liberals ignore these truths, QAnon believers just dig in deeper. It does look absurd when people say that Jeffrey Epstein killed himself despite a (forgive the term) orgy of evidence to the contrary, or that a newspaper can be objective when it is owned by a man who eats iguanas.
QAnon also has some parallels with socialism, and this is another characteristic which makes it so attractive. Deep down, I believe that even the most reactionary petite bourgeois knows that capitalism is collapsing and that socialism is the only way to preserve the human species. Most notably, the QAnon belief in a final conflict which brings about endless paradise on Earth sounds a lot like the socialist idea that the workers of the world will one day unite to overthrow all business owners and landlords and establish a global community where those who do the work call the shots. Both QAnon and socialism have their origins in Christianity, which may have stamped these ideologies with this Manichaean and/or Zoroastrian character. Scientific socialism differs from Christianity in the same way that astronomy differs from astrology, however, while QAnon itself is about as dependably accurate as the prophecies of Nostradamus.
Hopefully this analysis can help people make sense of why their friends, loved ones, neighbors, and politicians are descending into yet another fascist, anti-semitic conspiracy theory.